From the Editors



Dual Priority Agenda: China’s Model for Modernizing Education 

Zhenguo Yuan

Purpose—Forty years ago, China made a critical decision to reform and open up, achieving sustained economic growth. Simultaneously, China continued to center efforts on achieving its education modernization goals. It succeeded in the unconventional development of education, consolidating a population of nearly 1.4 billion into a powerful human resourcecentered nation and creating favorable interactive relationships with social and economic development. This paper aims to explore how these achievements were gained and how these relationships were made.

Design/Approach/Methods—This paper is conceptual in nature.

Findings—Based on the policy documents and development practice, this paper proposes a model of Dual Priority Agenda (DPA), whereby the government prioritized education development, and this development focused predominantly on promoting national development.

Originality/Value—By elaborating the background, characteristics, rationales, and mechanisms of the DPA, this paper contributes to a new conceptualization of reciprocal relationship between the state and educational modernization.





Changes in School Curriculum Administration in China

Yunhuo Cui, Hao Lei, and Wenye Zhou

Purpose—This study focuses on the establishment and evolution of the school curriculum administrative system in China.
Design/Approach/Methods—Based on policy papers and documents, this paper explores changes of the concept, tradition and practices of curriculum administration in China.
Findings—The curriculum administration since 1949 has developed from an “excessively centralized curriculum administration” model to a “sharing-based curriculum administration”. China’s three-level curriculum administrative system, comprising a national-, local-, and school-level curriculum administration framework, is explained and analyzed.
Originality/Values—This is a comprehensive scholarly review of historical changes in school curriculum administration in China. This paper also provides provocative suggestions for future development of school curriculum administration in the Chinese context.




Educating Learners for Their Future, Not Our Past

Andreas Schleicher

Purpose—This paper aims to examine the educational demands in the digital age from tomorrow’s teachers and policy-makers, and to encourage and incentivize all actors to develop the innovative learning environments that we need for tomorrow’s schools.
Design/Methodology/Approach—As a conceptual paper, this article has consulted and analyzed a wide range of updated data and literature to consolidate the argumentation on tomorrow’s educational demands.
Findings—The paper mainly provides possible answers on how to educate students for their future, rather than our past. The heart of future education is to help students develop a reliable compass and tools, transformative competency, and to navigate through an increasingly complex, volatile, and uncertain world. To fulfill this core mission, a new set of curriculum design principles, changing school system, renewed teacher culture, and an alternative assessment program are highly
Originality/Value—Based on the latest observations and reflections, the paper broadens our visions on tomorrow’s education and future schools.




Shifting the Education Paradigm: Why International Borrowing Is No Longer Sufficient for Improving Education in China

Yong Zhao

Purpose—The purpose of this article is to examine the consequences of mutual borrowing of educational policies and practices between the East and the West and implications for Chinese education.
Design/Methodology/Approach—This paper draws upon a wide variety of historical, cultural, and international assessment data.
Findings—The analyses found that the mutual borrowing is unlikely to improve education to the extent that the future world demands.
Originality/Value—Thus, the article concludes that instead of wasting resources and time on learning from each other’s past, education systems around the world should work on inventing a new paradigm of education. China is in a unique position to work on the new paradigm.


Calculating the Future: The Historical Assemblage of Empirical Evidence, Benchmarks & PISA

Thomas S. Popkewitz, Jingying Feng, and Lei Zheng

Purpose—Prominent at the intersections of national educational agencies, higher education, and international educational performance assessments are two reform standards: “benchmarks” determining optimal student performance, and “empirical evidence” for determining the quality of reform practices. These two notions are often taken as connecting policy
and research to effective changes in many countries. The article examines the historical and cultural principles about educational change and its sciences embedded in these standards through examining OECD’s PISA and the McKinsey & Company reports that draw on PISA’s data.
Findings/Originality/Value—First, the reports express salvation themes associated with modernity; that is, the promise of a better future through governing the present. The promise is to provide nations with data and models to achieve social equality, economic prosperity, and a participatory democracy. Second, the promise of the future is not descriptive of some present reality but to fabricate the universal characteristics about society and individuals. The numbers embody social and psychological categories about a desired unity of all students. Third, the “empirical evidence” of the international assessment entails a particular notion of science and “evidence”; one that paradoxically uses the universals in comparing and creating divisions.



Exploring the Mysteries of School Success in Shanghai

Allan Walker and Haiyan Qian

Purpose—The purpose of the paper is to discuss some of the mysteries around the much-touted recent success of school education in China and to explore some of the key conditions that may underpin the
Design/methodology/approach—It is a conceptual paper. A wide range of available data and literature has been consulted and analyzed to carefully marshal arguments about how to understand the mysteries and the conditions underpinning the success.
Findings—The paper discusses four mysteries around education success in China. It argues for the development of a fuller and more contextualized perspective to view the success. The paper further suggests that neither of the four general conditions for success—values, reform, leadership or teaching approaches—taken alone, can explain pathways to success.
Originality/Value—The paper provides an original explanatory description of the mysteries of education success and underlying conditions. This paper helps fill a gap in Western understanding of the “why” and “how” of school success in China.




Beijing Academy: Innovation, Design, and Learning

Richard F. Elmore

Purpose—Taking Beijing Academy as an illustrative example, this article aims to discuss a model of “design-as-learning, learning-as-design.”
Design/methodology/approach—As a member of an international panel of the school, I have involved significant periods of observation of classroom work, focus group discussions with students, meetings with teachers and administrators, and sessions with governmental officials and external partners for the school. This has provided rich first-hand data for the analysis.
Findings—This article argues that learning environments should be constructed around powerful theories of learning, that those theories should be subjected to constant and repetitive critique and revision in light of evidence, and most importantly that there is no fundamental difference in roles between adults and young people in the organization.
Originality/Value—This article has the potential to address the transitional issues resulted from the policy-driven reform and institutionally-determined definitions of learning and urges adults to transfer agency for learning of individual students.




The “Double First Class” Initiative under Top-Level Design

Xiao Liu